5 ways to help children cope with divorce

Parents in Tennessee who are going through a divorce can take several steps to help children cope with the news.

Parents in Tennessee who have decided to end their marriage are understandably faced with the challenge of helping children cope with the news and new family dynamic. No matter how old they are, children will likely react in some way upon hearing that their parents are separating.

Fortunately, there are a number of ways that parents can help their children adapt, such as the following:

1. Develop a sound parenting plan

Children will want to know how the divorce will affect their lives. Who will they live with? Where will they be for holidays? According to the Tennessee State Courts, there is a law in place that requires the family to work together to develop a parenting plan. This prioritizes the best interests of the child, which will typically include giving each parent the ability to spend time with and maintain a relationship with the child.

2. Keep routines

Experts agree that whenever possible, parents should strive to keep a child's life as close to it was prior to the divorce. For example, try to ensure the child can live in the same home and attend the same school. This helps with continuity and provides the child with a sense of familiarity during an otherwise uncertain time.

3. Allow the child to express feelings

Children should be encouraged to talk about how they are feeling. Parents should acknowledge and legitimize those emotions, no matter what they may be. A child could become sad, angry, confused or withdrawn. In some circumstances, it may be necessary for a parent to contact the child's doctor to ensure that the child is coping with the news well. The primary care physician may be able to refer the child to a mental health professional if need be.

4. Answer questions simply and honestly

Older children especially may have questions about why the parents are getting divorced. These questions should be answered as honestly as possible without going into too much detail or speaking unfavorably about one or both parents. KidsHealth.org reminds parents that any conflicts or discussion about legal circumstances should be kept away from the children.

5. Reassure children

Finally and perhaps most importantly, children will need reassurance. This includes reassurance that the divorce is not their fault as well as comfort that both parents still love the child. A child whose parents go through divorce may feel insecure about the family.

Divorce can be stressful on all members of a family. Working with the right professionals can help the transition go smoother. People in need of more information should speak with a family law attorney in Tennessee.